Racing with the Rangers: One Finish Line Ahead


Giddy-yap, Giddy-yap, Giddy-yap.

A stunning Metropolitan Division Final race has moved into the homestretch. Stay calm if you can; I can’t because this ice Derby is just too darn thrilling for words.

And this from an alleged wordsmith.

The Finish Line is just around the calendar and the Rangers hope that their galloping momentum puts them ahead of the Capitals at The Garden tape Wednesday night.

That 4-3 winning momentum was tangible on Sunday night at Verizon Center whether it was the New Yorkers early scoring or Henrik Lundqvist‘s stunning saves near the end.

Meanwhile, the respite provided by this extra day off is welcome on both sides. For Alain Vigneault it means huddling with his general staff to blueprint a Game Seven victory.

Alain Vigneault discusses the Rangers' Game 6 win over the Capitals, Rick Nash's first goal of the series, Henrik Lundqvist's strong effort in net, Chris Kreider's two-goal performance and looks ahead to Wednesday's Game 7 at The Garden.

And for that notable into-the-third round event to happen the following important New York-Washington amendments must be considered:

THE EXHAUSTED KING: Anyone who viewed MSG Networks’ John Giannone’s interview Henrik Lundqvist during MSG’s extensive post-game show saw and heard plenty about His Majesty’s work ethic — it was evident on his face and in his words. The Man put in a good night’s work — plus!

During their classic tete-a-tete, the Rangers magnificent goaltender never looked more exhausted than he did after the triumph.

It was miraculous that Lundqvist could even talk, he had expended so much energy after one of the finest three periods of his playing career.

Now the point is this  — as dehydrated though he may have been in the dressing room then — Henrik has had ample time to recover and be at the top of his game for the Finale. The more important the contest, the higher Henny rises to the occasion.

FUELING THE NASH MACHINE: One goal does not make a scoring splurge but Rick Nash‘s “cushion” goal on Sunday arrived at an opportune time for the team and the shooter.

More importantly, Rick’s score could be the catalyst for a Nash run of red lights, for which he’ll get applause and not a summons. His confidence is boosted, which should mean a big game for The Big Fella and mates Derick Brassard and Marty St. Louis.

KREIDER KO’s OVI: Chris Kreider is fulfilling all those glowing press notices that has him as the new Rangers offensive force. The hulking left wing is dominating the back end of this series the way Alex Ovechkin did during the early games.


Ovechkin continues to be a physical force — as a recovered crushed-by-Ovi-in-the-third-period Ryan McDonagh will attest — but a lesser scoring threat. The Big 8 simply can’t free himself during the powerless Caps power play. Meanwhile, linemate Nicklas Backstrom is more like a skating smoke ring than an explosive force.

LESS MEANS MORE: Relatively little attention is given to foot soldiers such as Dominic Moore, James Sheppard, Tanner Glass and Jesper Fast.

That’s because they’re not natural marquee names. Yet, despite the lesser spotlights on them, they deliver more than the eyes often see.

Fast, for example, launched Kreider’s opening goal thrust, dispatching a clever pass up the right wing. Moore is the major face-off man while Sheppard and Glass continue to neutralize the size on the other side.

Fast, also happens to describe the ultra-miles-per-hour the Rangers have developed over the past two, clutch comeback games.

As for the prime puck-stopper again at center-stage, King Henrik takes a look at the calendar, mulls tomorrow’s game and offers nothing but common sense.

“Everything is new,” Lundqvist concluded. “I’m just going to try and be in the moment, see what happens and hope that we all play our best.”

And for an insightful postscript, Henny’s scoring sidekick, Kreider, underlined what every Ranger is thinking.

“This is a great opportunity coming up and, hopefully, we can take advantage of it.”

Chris Kreider comments on the Rangers' Game 6 win over the Capitals, how the team maintained their composure throughout the contest and his two-goal performance.

Giddy-yap, Giddy-yap, Giddy-yap on to Wednesday night.